NSW Cup Grand Final Moments
The South Sydney Rabbitohs won the NSW Cup Grand Final on Sunday defeating the North Sydney Bears 22-18 at CommBank Stadium, Parramatta.
Shaq On A Mission
An early try to winger Alfred Smalley put the Bears in front but it wasn’t long until the Rabbits hit back. A short pass from hooker Peter Mamouzelos sent Shaquai Mitchell barging over next to the posts to score. Big Shaq was on a mission and could easily have been named man of the match.
In the 25th minute, Bears number 6 Jesse Marschke burst through and left red and green defenders in his wake to score and regain the lead for his team. Souths kept their composure and minutes later captain ‘Footy’ Dean Hawkins put the ball on the toe for back rower Ethan O’Neill to slam it down and score. The determination to get to the ball first summed up Ethans year, he has been outstanding. A Bears penalty goal just before half time saw the teams go into the sheds locked at 12 all.
Classic Rugby League
The 2nd half produced 2 classic Rabbitohs tries that would decide the game. The first was scored by flying winger Tommy Carr after some brilliant lead up work from his teammates. An inside decoy run from Matt French did enough to slow the advance of Bears bench forward Fletcher Baker. As Carr scored, it was Baker coming across in cover defence. French didn’t touch the ball in the movement but his involvement was just enough to create space for the try to be scored. Great passes by Pete Mamouzelous, Tallis Duncan and Dean Hawkins spread the ball where it was needed. Quick hands from Dion Teaupa then produced the money ball to Izaac Tu’itupou Thompson. Big Izaac hauled the pass in to send Tommy over in the corner.
A try in the 68th minute to powerful forward Reuben Porter put the Bears in front again. This left Souths fans wondering if the dream would turn into a nightmare.
Never Say Die
They needn’t have worried because South Sydney were playing with a never say die attitude. With 5 minutes remaining and the Bunnies down by 2 points, the ball was shifted to the right. Decoy runs by Shaq Mitchell, Ethan O’Neill and Jacob Gagai created diversions that the Norths defenders had no answer for. The football was in the hands of ‘Footy’ Dean who then rifled a long ball to Blake Taaffe with room to move. Blake then used his 2 on 1 overlap to draw and pass, sending Tyrone Munro over to score untouched for the match winner. A perfectly executed play used at the right time. It was certainly a glorious way to win a title.
Blake Taaffe was man of the match, thanks for the memories mate and good luck at the Bulldogs. Big ‘one on one’ tackles during the match by Buddy Gordon and Jaxson Rahme deserve special mention as does the try saver by ‘Footy Dean’ and the long break made by Matt French. The Joe O’Callaghan Gatorade shower was also a highlight.
A Ben Lovett knee injury was a sad end to his year but Benny was in good spirits after the game and will be back in 2024 once his recovery is complete.
All 17 players who took the field did the club proud as did the rest of the squad, their amazing coaches and staff. After the game Buddy Gordon told fans on the sideline that when he made his NRL debut in 2005, Tyrone Munro was just 5 months old!
The State Championship
This Sunday the Rabbitohs do it all over again on NRL Grand Final day in the State Championship title game. Souths will take on Queensland champions the Brisbane Tigers. The game kicks off at 1.20pm live on Nine, Foxtel and Kayo. After 9 wins in a row South Sydney are not suprisingly heavy favourites with bookies to win the game.
Read ‘The Rabbitoh’ here.
NSW Cup Grand Final Moments.
By Steve Mavin for Bunnies TV.